Well, if one kid was going to have a new gym bag for back-to-school, I certainly couldn’t let the other kid feel left out. And since there was plenty of fabric left over from her pencil case, I decided that a Star-Wars themed gym bag would be a good plan.
This is a super easy pattern (and free!). It’s also very quick to sew.
I wanted to use bright colours, but I also wanted it to be practical. I think the purple should wear well.
My daughter helped pick all the fabric. And I think she did a great job.
Again, the only (barely) hard part was putting in the grommets. I did a practice run first, but these were no problem at all.
Character Names in Multi from the Star Wars II collection by Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM for Camelot Cottons.
Kona solid (could this be Plum?) by Robert Kaufman.
Ovals in Lime from the Remix collection by Anne Kelle for Robert Kaufman.
Sizes: One size fits most. The finished bag is 14″ x 17″.
Sewing Level: Beginner.
Just to be clear: The Star Wars name is trademarked by Lucasfilm Ltd. and used by the fabric manufacturer under licence. The gym bag shown here is not an official licensed product and is not available for sale. But you can always buy some fabric and make your own!
Way back in July I volunteered to do a little pattern testing. I’d never been a pattern tester before so I thought I’d give you a little run down on what it’s like. The pattern I had the chance to test is the super cute Sally Dress from Very Shannon (great first name!) of luvinthemommyhood fame.
Now before you look at my version, you should hop over to her site and take a look at the finished versions there, then hop back here.
The dress is fully lined with nice big pockets (love those pockets!). It has no closures so it’s great for beginners and comes in sizes 2T to 8, which is a nice range. It also comes sleeveless or with two sleeve variations (short sleeves and elbow-length sleeves).
This is a really cute dress and it’s very easy to sew. I think Shannon did two rounds of testing, but I was only available for the first round. So when I did my round the sleeves weren’t quite ready and the bodice was also changed in the second round. I do like the sleeveless version though.
Now one thing about pattern testing is that you are sewing to a deadline, which I try not to do too often. In this case my busy schedule meant that I only had one day to get fabric. And there was only one place that was open on the day I could go. Ack! So this isn’t my first choice of fabric for this pattern (I do like the prints though), but I still like the way it turned out.
The prints are Houndstooth and Swell Strip, both in multicoloured, from the Textured Basics collection by Patty Young for Michael Miller Fabrics. The houndstooth was a gift from Double Decker Fabrics.
This is the inside out view where you can see how nicely it’s finished on the inside. I lined the bodice in super soft cotton batiste.
Now I have to say this testing didn’t go as easy as I would have liked. I had to resew the bodice twice, and shorten the skirt (which meant taking apart the pockets), and because I was matching the stripes, redo the pockets. Now of course, all the little problems that had me resewing were fixed and retested before the final pattern was released, so have no fear! You will not be subjected to all of that. And if I hadn’t chosen a striped print, I could have made life so much easier on my self.
But it all still went a little wrong. This dress relies on a very fitted bodice for the fit and my little one is very slim in the chest, which mean she’s floating in the dress. I made the size 7, which I always make, and it’s just too big. I probably would have been happier making the size 4, but lengthening it.
And the other thing that went wrong was that I hadn’t seen how long the dress was supposed to be. None of the photos showed the full model. Of course now there are quite a few cute Sally Dresses out there, and some are quite short, some shorter than I’d like, but all are much shorter than mine.
So I had a choice. I could rip out everything and recut, or I could just hang onto it until next spring when it will probably fit perfectly. And since my little girl loves it as is, I went with the second choice.
I will, hover, have to try again, and maybe this time add sleeves too.
This year I did quite a bit of back-to-school sewing. With two kids in school there is just so much to buy, so it’s nice to be able to make something as well.
I started off with six fat quarters from the Seven Seas collection by Michéle Brummer Everett for Cloud9 Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles. The prints I chose are Laddies Poppets, Sea Critters, and The Fleet in Grey. These are just so darn cute! When my little boy saw them he was over the moon. These are really fun prints and the fabric is organic, which is always nice.
This is a free online tutorial (with a super convenient PDF download). The directions are very clear and easy to follow.
The tutorial makes a lined drawstring bag that is kid-sized. It’s a little big on my 5-year-old but not so big it looks silly. Just big enough that it will last a while though.
I used white cording for the drawstring, but you could also use ribbon, homemade bias binding stitched closed, etc.
There is plenty of room inside for sneakers and a change of clothes.
The toughest part of the pattern was installing grommets (which really were not that hard to install). Much easier than eyelets, if you’ve ever had to use those, because the grommets are so much larger and more stable when you whack them with a hammer. You do need a special grommet tool though.
My son really likes the sea creatures and the colours. It’s really hard to find fabric for boys that isn’t too babyish, or too serious, or too dark. These prints are bright and fun and and the bag was a big hit.
I’m really happy with this bag. It’s just so much cuter than anything I could buy in the store. And it was super quick to make. In case, ahem, you have to make one the day before school starts because your summer was just too crazy (just saying).
I can’t believe summer is almost over. This morning when we all got up in was only 10 degrees celsius. Brrrrr.
So I thought it would be good to clear my summer blogging queue, and make room for the fall sewing. This is one of my last summer sewing projects – two sets of the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress (as tops) and the Puppet Show Shorts, in sizes 4 and 7 for my bigger girls.
The Ice Cream Dress I’ve made before, twice. It’s just as cute as a top and even easier to sew. Since I was making matching shorts, I didn’t do any colour blocking this time around.
I love the way these turned out. The fabric, some quilting cotton, was chosen by the kids. I picked this up at one of the local chain stores. I figure these will look good with jeans and they can wear them through the fall layered over t-shirts.
To go with the tops I made the Puppet Show Shorts, also by Oliver + S. This was my first time using this pattern, and I made it in one of my favourite fabrics, Cotton Linen Chambray from Robert Kaufman. I originally planned to bind the bottoms of the shorts in the linen, but working with linen on the bias is tough. The binding stretched out so much the shorts were barely gathered at the bottom. So I ripped it all out and started again. Still looks cute though.
Now, some of you Oliver + S fans may have noticed that the Puppet Show Shorts do not come in size 7. I graded these up two sizes from the largest available, size 5. I also added two inches to the length, which is a little better for my 6-year-old. It wasn’t very difficult.
I love the pockets on these shorts. Adorable.
These are the size 7, and she really did need those two extra inches. Next time I’ll make the binding a bit shorter so that it’s a bit more gathered at the bottom.
I finished the outfits on a rainy day. After the first doomed indoor photo shoot we waited for a sunny day and had much better luck. But would the two kids pose together? “Nooooooo!” So you’ll just have to trust me when I say I made two whole outfits.
This year kid No 2 starts all-day kindergarten, and on the back-to-school list was a blanket for nap time. So off we went to the fabric store to choose some nice soft flannel.
He chose the gecko print. It’s just some bargain flannel that I got at the local chain store. I bought three meters and I think that came to about 11$ total, making this a good bargain. The school list asked for a blanket or beach towel, and at that price the blanket is softer, larger and less expensive than any store-bought towel.
I sewed this up in about 30 minutes. It’s just two squares sewn together inside-out. I used a soup can to draw curves around the corners. Then I top stitched once around the edge and a second time about an 1.5 inches in so that the two sides stick together properly. I also appliquéd Kid No 2’s initial on the front, but I don’t really want to publish his initial on the internet so you will have to use your imagination. The finished blanket measures just under 1.5 m by 1.5 m.
This is such an easy project and it’s a great way to make your own baby blankets. I’ve never made by own receiving blankets, since I was always too busy preparing for baby to do much sewing, but this is a very easy, cost-effective, quick project for even complete beginners.